Arrest warrants removed on suspects in murder of a man during Kobani protests

A Turkish court, in a retrial case, has ordered the removal of arrest warrants for three people convicted in a case of shooting and beating to death a man participating in the October 2014 Kobane protests in Izmir, critical online news portal Gazete Duvar reported on Thursday.

On Wednesday, in its first hearing of the retrial case, the 8th Izmir Criminal Court removed the four-year arrest warrants issued for three defendants who were not present at the court hearings.

The three, Resit Aktas, Kubilay Aktas, Murat Kesgin, were convicted of shooting and beating Ekrem Kacaroglu, 38, to death during protests held in Bornova district of Izmir on October 7, 2014.

Kacaroglu, a father of three, was shot allegedly by the police and later was lynched by a civilian far-right group while protesting the Turkish government’s stance over the advance of the Islamic State (ISIS) on the Kurdish city of Kobane as part of massive demonstrations of the October 6-8 Kobane incidents all over the country.

He succumbed to his injuries on October 19 in hospital.

In October 2014, the Kobane mass protests erupted across the majority Kurdish south-east of Turkey and scattered across the country. The protests were targeted at ISIS and those protesting claimed to be its supporters of the ruling government Justice and Development Party (AKP), leaving more than 40 people dead and hundreds injured.

The AKP government blamed the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for the incidents, most of those killed or wounded either at the hands of security forces, far-right Turkish nationalists or Islamist Kurdish groups that support the ISIS.

Previously, the Turkish Court of Appeals found the seventeen-year sentence over “potentially intentional killing” insufficient and ruled a retrial over “intentional killing.”

The first hearing of the retrial began with defense lawyers who claimed Kacaroglu was killed not from the assaults but shooting, and there was not enough evidence to prove their clients used arms, and they shall be charged with assault.

The attorneys also argued the then protests were not against the ISIS’ attack on Kobane, but for the purpose of toppling the ruling AKP. They demanded the arrest warrants imposed on their clients for four years be dropped.

Kacaroglu’s attorneys said the deficiencies were previously stated by themselves during the initial trials were the same as the ones stated by the Appeals Court. They further claimed the biggest deficiency was the lack of defendants’ appearance before the court.

During the initial trials, the Izmir 3rd Court of Peace released the suspects pending trial on the grounds Kacaroglu was killed by gunshots, and therefore they could only be charged with intentionally causing injury.

Since then, the defendants have not appeared in court, except for the first appearance.

The plaintiff’s counsel also claimed the defendants admitted to firing a gun during their first appearance at the court. Kacaroglu’s lawyers demanded the defendants be sentenced over “intentional killing.”

The court, however, removed the arrest warrants issued previously for the three convicted defendants and adjourned the hearing to November 2019.

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